WCC Tournament First Round Preview: #8 San Francisco vs. #9 Pacific


Ding! Let round one of the WCC Championship begin.

In spite of the fact that USF has prevailed over Pacific twice during regular season games, a win for the Dons is not a given. Make no mistake, USF will be ready not only to win but to win decisively over the Tigers. A solid win in Vegas for the Dons will help them put a positive finish on what was a topsy-turvey season. A win from Pacific will put the program in the spotlight which is always good for the newest WCC team.

Feb 7, 2015; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Dons center Mark Tollefsen (23) celebrates after scoring the final two points of the first half to tie the game with Gonzaga Bulldogs at War Memorial Gymnasium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

The Dons have shown from time to time during the season that they can play with top teams at least one half of one game. They stayed close to Gonzaga for the first half of the game in San Francisco, beat Pepperdine in both games, beat Montana (who are in 2nd place in the Big Sky Conference) way back when, stayed close but lost to EWU (3rd place in the Big Sky Conference) and Cleveland State (4th place in the Horizon League). While the Dons are not an NCAA or NIT caliber team this year, a win is still a win.

Both teams stand ready when their regular personnel to hit the floor. San Francisco boasts newly decorated players Mark Tollefsen (All-WCC Second Team) and Devin Watson (WCC All-Freshman Team). Tim Derksen and seniors Kruize Pinkins and Matt Christiansen will likely start alongside them, although Pinkins could come off the bench as has been the case the last few games. Matt Glover will be on hand to provide defensive rebounding strength, one of his hallmarks during the year.

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Pacific player T.J. Wallace earned All-WCC Honorable Mention and will be worthy of that mention. He should lead the Tigers in scoring as usual. David Taylor will add a few points given that he was the top scoring player for Pacific in their game last week against San Francisco.  Eric Thompson, Gabriel Aguirre and Ray Bowles will fill out the rest of the starting roster for the Tigers. Don’t overlook Alec Kombre and Jacob Lampkin off the bench. Both players made key contributions for Pacific against San Francisco last week. They round out a deep but young frontcourt that can challenge the elite big men of the Dons on a good day.

No matter which team prevails in this game, they will have a Herculean task ahead of them in the quarterfinals on Saturday against WCC regular season champions Gonzaga. The San Francisco-Pacific game will be a solid opening appetizer to the rest of the tournament, and it could be much more interesting than a battle between the #141 and #240 KenPom ranked teams would suggest. What happens in this game in Vegas hopefully won’t have to stay in Vegas.